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Leg Brace Harvests Energy

Time Magazine has just named the Bionic Energy Harvester, which was developed by researchers at Simon Fraser University, as one of its Top 50 Inventions of 2008. The device is a wearable orthopedic knee brace that extracts up to 13 watts of power. One minute of walking will generate about half an hour of talking on a mobile phone.

Bionic Power is the spinoff company from SFU, a university based in Burnaby, Canada. “Every day we move closer to the goal of turning this great idea into a product that will improve the lives of soldiers, first responders, users of mobile medical devices, and other people whose lives depend upon portable power,” said the company's CEO Yad Garcha.

The device, first unveiled in the journal Science last February, is powered from the energy put into slowing down the knee joint at the end of each person's step. The process is similar to the regenerative braking found in hybrids. Commercial applications could make it possible to self-power prosthetic limbs or medical implants.

While the brace is years away from getting on the commercial market, the Canadian military is testing the prototype next spring. Eventually the goal is to make it smaller and lightweight. The military prototypes will be about half the weight of the device first tested earlier this year.

Time Magazine listed the Bionic Energy Harvester at 33 in its Top 50 list calling the device “perhaps the most promising in a class of products that harvest energy - all the more important at a time when portable tech, from Blackberries to iPods, is becoming ubiquitous.”

Via Vancouver Sun, CBC

Image Via Science

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Comments (6)Add Comment
written by Andrew Leinonen, November 03, 2008
I think I've read about this before, but having got into cycling a lot more recently and becoming more acutely aware of knee injuries and RSI, it makes me wonder if the designers of this have studied the risks associated with stressing knees in unnatural ways. It's an interesting idea, but i don't know how much resistance it actually generates.
written by Matt Berlin, November 03, 2008
Why bother throwing another link into the chain of energy conversion, especially when that link involves undue stress on your body? There are more efficient ways of converting chemical energy into electrical energy.
written by Mich, November 03, 2008
Who is going to be held responsible for the knee and leg cancers that are certain to result from the use of this device?
written by Anthony, November 04, 2008
Seeing this device first hand on the campus, I can say it's quiet effective. As far as the concerns on stressing the knees, the device itself is purely passive; it's resistance on the knee is negligible, meaning it would be similar to wearing a shin pad.
written by Jak, November 04, 2008
As a member of the military, as a soldier, that is probably the best piece of tech available to a footsoldier. The ability to power not only your iPod and cell phone, but possibly your flashlight, electric razor and even charge your radio's batteries in the field would be a huge benefit to tactical movement and action as well as morale. If this could be integrated into the kneepads we already wear, I highly doubt any extra resistance would make much of a difference to us if it meant we could have music and charged cameras at all times.
written by Fred, July 17, 2009
weird but convenient way of charging ur phone

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